Sunday, November 24, 2013

Is Thanksgiving Really Just For Americans?

Thanksgiving, one of our most cherished holidays, has always been considered to be a uniquely American holiday. But several other countries, cultures, and religions have their ways of celebrating the season and giving thanks. 

Take China, for example. Each year, the Chinese celebrate the harvest and give thanks to friends and family through their Moon Festival. Many traditional foods also circle around this holiday, but rather than the famous pie- the Chinese consume delicious round "moon cakes". These cakes are exchanged between family and friends as a token of appreciation and symbol of love. If you are looking for another way to express your love during this time, you're in luck! The 15th day of the 8th lunar month is also known as Women's Day. Sit beneath the moon with your significant other and enjoy the moon together, which the Chinese believe is the biggest and brightest on this day. 

In Brazil, the Ambassador enjoyed his experience of a traditional American thanksgiving so much that he decided to bring the idea back to his home. It has become a day to expressed thanks and gratitude for friends and family through a giant  annual harvest. 

Ancient Rome also historically had a fall celebration that closely resembles our Thanksgiving tradition. This festival, known as Cerelia, was celebrated in honor of the goddess of corn. It was custom that on this day, grains, fruits, and animals would be presented as a token of gratitude to the goddess. Then, friends and family would celebrate with music, dancing, and- of course- lots of food!

As we know, Korea is also no stranger to the thanksgiving tradition. Koreans have their own thanksgiving celebration, referred to as Chuseok. But instead of turkey and stuffing, this holiday calls for a dish known as Songpyon, made up of rice, beans, sesame seeds, and chestnuts. Friends and families gather together to eat, talk, and enjoy each other's company
while also giving thanks to their ancestors. 

So even if they don't exactly have a pumpkin pie, turkey, and plate of stuffing at their table, many other cultures have their own ways of giving thanks and appreciation among the people they care about- that aren't too different from ours after all! 

To learn more about the cultural and diversity taught at Fujimini Island, please click here.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

10 Festivals In Asia That Will Change Your Life (Part Two of Two)

Asia is a popular tourist destination for many reasons, including its mouthwatering food, beautiful sights, and remarkable infrastructure- but thousands of people flock to the countries of Asia each year for another reason as well- their festivals. 

Countries across Asia such as Japan, Korea, China, Thailand, India, and more are host to spectacular festivals and parades on an almost monthly basis. Every festival brings something fun and culturally significant to the table, but we have a handful of festivals that prove so unique and exciting, you'd have to be crazy to not add them to your to-do list. The first five, mentioned in our previous blog, include the Naadam Festival in Mongolia, the Full Moon Party in Thailand, the Lantern Festival in China, the Mud Festival in South Korea, and the Ice Festival in China. The next five are equally as remarkable as the first and might just have you pulling out your calendar to plan your next trip! 

6. Cherry Blossom Festival
Here at ONCEkids, we are huge fans of this festival, and it seems like many other people are too because it has made number 6 on our list of life-changing Asian festivals! In Japan, the cherry blossom has become a metaphor for the nature of life and is an extremely important aspect of their culture. So visiting one of Japan's parks during the Cherry Blossom Festival, which coincides with their blooming season, will not only let you take in the beauty of the tree and it's blossoms, but also connect you with Japanese culture and tradition. 

7. Diwali
Also known as the Festival of Lights, this event is one of the most beautiful and culture rich times in India. It will take your breath away to witness candles and lanterns being lit and released as far as the eye can see. This festival is not only extraordinarily aesthetically pleasing, but it also possesses a deep connection with Hindu culture. The lights and fireworks are used to represent the continuous triumph of good over evil.

8. Thaipusam
The next festival on the list is certainly not for the faint of heart! This event is much more for observing and learning rather than participating but remains equally life-changing! Like the Full Moon Party, this religious celebration takes place during a full moon in January, to celebrate the birth of Murugan, who defeated the evil demon Soorapadman. During this festival, tens of thousands of tourists gather at the Temple at Batu Caves to witness the ceremony. 

9. Holi
Many of the parades, holidays, and festivals in Asia have an underlying historical significance, and this holiday is no exception! The Holi Festival has ancient origins and, like Diwali, is purposed to represent the defeat of evil through good. On this day, it is tradition to hug one another, wishing them a 'Happy Holi'. Oh and did I mention to throw paint and colored powder at each other also? You heard me right! This festival is home to the Carnival of Colors, where there is singing, dancing, and chasing each other with dry powder and water guns filled with colored water. The Indian festival is sometimes referred to as the Festival of Love, because it encourages people to forgive and forget, to laugh and play, and to feel careless, something many of us do not always have time for in our day-to-day lives. 

10. Songkran
Instead of mud, the Thai New Year (known as Songkran), likes to use water! This last festival is so cool because it is literally one giant water fight. So get some old clothes and shoes on and get ready to get soaking wet then covered in flour! This new year's celebration really stood out to me for how unique it is and also because its all about just letting loose and having a ridiculous time, something we all should indulge in every once and a while! 

To learn more about the cultural and diversity taught at Fujimini Island, please click here.

10 Festivals In Asia That Will Change Your Life (Part One of Two)

Various countries across Asia are known for their delicious food, breath taking architecture, and innovative tecnhnology- but many people aren't aware of another special feature these countries have to offer. 

They are also home to hundreds of festivals and parades each year, ranging from spiritual and ritualistic festivals to food and music festivals. People travel from all over the world to take part in these fun and exciting events and to witness Asian culture at its most pure.

Every festival has something unique to bring to the table, but there are 10 of them that have something you absolutely cannot miss. So whether you are a college student in your early twenties or in your mid fifties, the following festivals should be on everyone's bucket list. 

1. Naadam Festival
This first festival is for the sports lovers! A spectacle sometimes referred to as "Mongolia's Olympics", covers all the bases of the nation's sports, including horseback riding, archery, and wrestling. This festival, which takes place over the summer, is purely for entertainment and purposed to represent the joy of the harvest. 

2. Full Moon Party
If this event keeps popping up- it must be something I need to add to my to-do list! Like I wrote about in one of my previous articles, the full moon party is a monthly event in Thailand where thousands of people from all different corners of the world gather to party, drink, eat, and dance to music under the full moon. And according to STA Travel, it is an experience that everyone at some point needs to have. 

3. Lantern Festival
Ah, another one of our favorites! Lanterns are a decoration seen used in many Asian celebrations, due to their beauty and cultural significance. But imagine the beauty of dozens of lanterns in the sky and replace it with thousands of lanterns and you have a slight idea of how incredible China's yearly Lantern Festival is. On the night of February 13, head to Taiwan, or even Shanghai and Hangzhou, to witness one of the spectacular finale to the Chinese New Year celebration. 

4. Mud Festival 
If you aren't afraid to get pretty dirty, the mud festival is the perfect way to let loose and have some child-like fun during your time in Asia! If you're thinking to yourself mud wrestling isn't really your thing so you probably wouldn't like it- stop right there! In addition to mud wrestling, there are also countless activities for those looking to have a relaxing time, including a giant mud tub and a mud massage zone. The Boryeong mud of South Korea is known for it's healing properties and benefits, contributing to why it is the festival with
the highest international attendance. For those looking to get the full experience, join in events such as  mud sliding, mud swimming, and a mud marine course for the adventurous. Wow, that's a lot of mud! 

5. Ice Festival
Despite it's freezing temperatures, winter is considered one of the best times to visit Harbin- and trust me, being a little chilly would be well worth it to be a part of the annual Ice Festival. This winter event is thought of as one of the most exciting and romantic destinations on earth, where you can see and do things that unique to that area
of China. Stay in a super cool ice hotel, tour the safari-style Siberian tiger park, go dog sledding, drink in the ice bars of Snow World, or stick with the traditional- skating, skiing, or riding a snow mobile. And don't forget the best events of the season- the Ice Lantern show and Snow Sculpture Art Expo, where you get to witness the creating and displaying of some of the world's most jaw dropping ice and snow sculptures. The annual festival begins after Christmas and lasts until the beginning of February, so be sure to start planning your trip! 

To learn more about the cultural and diversity taught at Fujimini Island, please click here.

Keep an eye out for the next 5 Asian Festivals that will change your life in the part two segment!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

How K-pop Group Girls' Generation Beat Out Icons Like Miley Cyrus at YouTube's First Music Awards

Whether it is for her powerful vocals or questionable choice of attire (or lack there of), Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" seems like the most popular thing going in cyber space at the moment, but last night's results at YouTube's first award show proved otherwise! 

Awards such as Eminem's Artist of the Year came as no surprise as the audience clapped loudly and showed their support, but when "Video of the Year" was given to Girls' Generation, many audience members reacted with surprise or even confusion. 

This all-girls, K-pop group may not be as widespread in the U.S. as Justin Bieber or Lady GaGa, but in Asia it's a whole different story. 

Has your family received a NookKindle or iPad this year?  Find Fujimini Adventure Series award-winning books here.  Great family-friendly gifts

Often referred to as the Asian version of Spice Girls, this talented group sings, raps, has pop-like beats, and coordinated dance moves- a combination that has sent K-pop fans running wild. Fan hysteria has only increased since the release of their music video "I Got a Boy", which was the video nominated for YouTube's award ceremony. 

In addition to their catchy lyrics and admirable dance moves, the nine-member group's style and glamor has also caught attention. Always featuring coordinated and stylish outfits, the girls are beginning to become fashion icons as well as pop icons. 

Although the wild fire of Girls' Generation hasn't quite spread to the United States, we can only expect its rapid arrival after winning "Video of the Year" at YouTube's first music awards. So get ready to start seeing a lot of these nine talented girls as they make their way overseas!

To learn more about the cultural and diversity taught at Fujimini Island, please click here.

Click Below to View the Girls' Generation Music Video, "I Got A Boy", That Caught the Eye of Americans During the YouTube Music Awards: